The phosphorylation of the RNA polymerase II CTD plays a key role in delineating transcribed regions within chromatin by recruiting histone methylases and deacetylases. Using genome-wide nucleosome mapping, we show that CTD S2 phosphorylation controls nucleosome dynamics in the promoter of a subset of 324 genes, including the regulators of cell differentiation ste11 and metabolic adaptation inv1. Mechanistic studies on these genes indicate that during gene activation a local increase of phosphoS2 CTD nearby the promoter impairs the phosphoS5 CTD dependent recruitment of Set1 and the subsequent recruitment of specific HDACs, which leads to nucleosome depletion and efficient transcription. The early increase of phosphoS2 results from the phosphorylation of the CTD S2 kinase Lsk1 by MAP kinase in response to cellular signaling. The artificial tethering of the Lsk1 kinase at the ste11 promoter is sufficient to activate transcription. Therefore, signaling through the CTD code regulates promoter nucleosomes dynamics.
- Danny Reinberg, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York University School of Medicine, United States
© 2015, Materne et al.
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Histone post-translational modifications (PTMs) play a critical role in chromatin regulation. It has been proposed that these PTMs form localized ‘codes’ that are read by specialized regions (reader domains) in chromatin-associated proteins (CAPs) to regulate downstream function. Substantial effort has been made to define [CAP: histone PTM] specificities, and thus decipher the histone code and guide epigenetic therapies. However, this has largely been done using the reductive approach of isolated reader domains and histone peptides, which cannot account for any higher-order factors. Here, we show that the [BPTF PHD finger and bromodomain: histone PTM] interaction is dependent on nucleosome context. The tandem reader selectively associates with nucleosomal H3K4me3 and H3K14ac or H3K18ac, a combinatorial engagement that despite being in cis is not predicted by peptides. This in vitro specificity of the BPTF tandem reader for PTM-defined nucleosomes is recapitulated in a cellular context. We propose that regulatable histone tail accessibility and its impact on the binding potential of reader domains necessitates we refine the ‘histone code’ concept and interrogate it at the nucleosome level.
Primate evolution has led to a remarkable diversity of behavioral specializations and pronounced brain size variation among species (Barton, 2012; DeCasien and Higham, 2019; Powell et al., 2017). Gene expression provides a promising opportunity for studying the molecular basis of brain evolution, but it has been explored in very few primate species to date (e.g. Khaitovich et al., 2005; Khrameeva et al., 2020; Ma et al., 2022; Somel et al., 2009). To understand the landscape of gene expression evolution across the primate lineage, we generated and analyzed RNA-seq data from four brain regions in an unprecedented eighteen species. Here, we show a remarkable level of variation in gene expression among hominid species, including humans and chimpanzees, despite their relatively recent divergence time from other primates. We found that individual genes display a wide range of expression dynamics across evolutionary time reflective of the diverse selection pressures acting on genes within primate brain tissue. Using our samples that represent a 190-fold difference in primate brain size, we identified genes with variation in expression most correlated with brain size. Our study extensively broadens the phylogenetic context of what is known about the molecular evolution of the brain across primates and identifies novel candidate genes for the study of genetic regulation of brain evolution.